I must start this blog with a bit of a confession. Vinnie Heaven – writer and performer of ‘She’s a Good Boy’ – is in fact one of my oldest and dearest friends. And yes, this means I have the potential to be completely biased in how I write about and review their show and performance. However, I promise you that this review is honest, genuine and because its me, extremely heart felt.
Firstly, it was amazing to see such a diverse audience arrive and take their seats. Young people, old people, families, people of colour, people with disabilities. I spoke to a mother and daughter who were sat next to me and my soon to be wife – Laura and I asked them what brought them to see the show. The mother told me their daughter was being bullied for being gay and that she had brought her to see something like this to try and make her feel more included and confident.
Without having written at all yet about how fantastic Vinnie’s performance is and how empowering, brutally and intelligently honest and educational the show is; this example of an LGBT+ young person who is struggling, is exactly why these performances and events are so important for our society today. Having worked with over 70 trans and non-binary young people who also identified in some cases as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual and other sexuality minorities, seeing a performance such as this, shows them they aren’t alone, gives them a role model and gives their identity visibility in a far too often cisgender, blue and pink world.
Vinnie has always been a brilliant performer. There hasn’t been a single performance I have been to which I didn’t enjoy. Even more than that though, when I watch Vinnie I stop seeing them and I see their character, a testament of a true performer. When I saw them as Pinocchio in Gloucester in recent years it wasn’t Vinnie on the stage it was a wooden puppet with a long pointy nose!
With this in mind, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of ‘She’s a Good Boy’ as I knew it was a performance based on Vinnie’s experiences. Vinnie jumps in and out of character; from being present as their self on stage to being themselves say two years ago or ten years ago and even incorporates imaginary younger versions of themselves. Last Friday evening at Derby Theatre I didn’t see Vinnie, well I did, but I saw all of their ‘characters’ or historical versions of themselves throughout their life. Vinnie’s ability to do this so well whilst also adding in humour and hilarity is second to none.
IS THE SHOW REPRESENTATIVE OF NON-BINARY PEOPLE?
This week somebody asked me whether I thought the show was representative of non-binary people and identities. Wow what a question. And as a cisgender person I don’t think I can answer it. However, having waited until the audience had left to go for a lime and soda with the star of the show and the lovely Jess, I saw a number of people approach Vinnie afterwards. I overheard comments about how great the show was, how they felt Vinnie was representing them on stage and how they had had an awful week, but this gave them a laugh and also hope. So yes, I do think ‘She’s a Good Boy’ is reflective of non-binary identities and communities and I applaud Vinnie for their honest portrayal of their identity and their life.
On a heart felt personal note, I had been told by so many people that they had cried when they went to see the performance and as an emotional person, I thought I might do the same. But I didn’t, in fact I smiled. I smiled when I laughed, I smiled at Vinnie’s fantastic performance ability but more importantly I smiled because they have come so far. The struggles with their identity that Vinnie alludes to and also honestly highlights were struggles that I saw them experience as their friend. So for me, as much as I wished these experiences hadn’t happened, to see Vinnie being themselves and their true authentic self is truly wonderful and I couldn’t be happier.
BRAVO VINNIE, BRAVO!
What I am also extremely happy about is the fact that this performance is educating people about how to best support non-binary people, is giving hope to non-binary people and the wider LGBT+ community and is, even in a small way, changing the world. Bravo Vinnie, bravo!
You can find out more about Vinnie Heaven and the remaining tour dates for the show here.